Since the average supermarket in Europe rarely has banana leaves or manioc tubers, we have made a list of links to where to buy all these ingredients. If you have an Asia store nearby, you will surely find most of the ingredients there.
You can order single banana leaves here or here cooled. Other stores offer them even in kilo packs. Do not forget that one single leaf is more than one meter long! Any leaves you could not use yet can be frozen and thawed again if necessary.
The best place to buy black pepper is Madagascar, of course. All markets there sell it. Usually, the Malagasy black pepper is sun-dried which makes a very special nice taste. Generally, even when buying in Europe, take care to buy very dark, homogenous pepper. The more “colorful” and brighter the pepper is, the lower is its quality.
Cassava and Manioc
Cassava are the green leaves from the manioc tuber and taste similar to spinach. You can buy fresh manioc tubers online here and here. Getting the leaves is a little more difficult, Mama T has dried and cut leaves from time to time.
Four spices or quatre épices is a spice mixture from French cuisine. It is used in Madagascar in some recipes because the spices used are typically Malagasy and can be found everywhere on the island. In Europe, you can buy the spice mixture in well-stocked spice stores. But you can also make the mixture yourself very easily: Eight parts white pepper, one part ginger, one part cloves roasted briefly in a pan, and two parts nutmeg finely grind in a mortar. Some ready-made mixtures still have a touch of cinnamon.
Pickled green pepper is best bought in Madagascar in long-lasting cans. But also ordinary pickled pepper from the jar does it for most recipes. You can find it in the delicatessen section of any well-stocked supermarket.
In Madagascar, vegetables are very often cut into fine strips with a julienne peeler. In Europe, on the other hand, they are rarely used. Instead of trying to cut fine strips with a knife, the small expense is really worth it for Malagasy food (it’s not just the look that’s right with it!). Julienne peelers are now available in well-stocked supermarkets, but also in any major online retailer.
Rice flour is available in small packages here and here, and some well-assorted supermarkets sell it, too. If you do not have enough time to wait for online ordered rice flour, you can replace it easily with cornmeal which is usually easier to get in Europe. It tastes only slightly different, mainly a little sweeter.
These small chili peppers are available in large quantities at very reasonable prices in Malagasy markets. Unfortunately, you can’t get Sakay in Europe. A good reason to travel to Madagascar! If you have dried Piri Piri chiles from Portugal at home, you can use them. They are quite similar but do not quite reach the pungency of Malagasy Sakay.
There are two ways to get your food steamed: The first is to buy a special cooking steamer. If you do not want to buy one just for one meal, you can easily use a cheaper bamboo steamer that is put on the top of small pots. Works equally well.
Our article about vanilla explains what to look for when buying vanilla beans: They should still be soft, a little juicy, dark black, and flexible. Supermarkets usually offer only single, very expensive beans of poor quality: These are dust-dry and small. You can often find better quality at small spice dealers.
Wan Tan (won ton)
These tiny pastry wraps can be found in the refrigerated counter of every Asia shop or online here and here. Once you have too many pieces left, you can freeze them without a problem and thaw them later again.
Voatsiperyfery is a wild pepper growing only in Madagascar. Outside Madagascar, it is very hard to get good quality wild pepper. Usually, the only way to order it in Europe is delicacy shops, and prices are really expensive for even a few grams. Meanwhile, you can find it here and there in well-stocked spice shops. In Madagascar, you can buy it in larger amounts for relatively cheap prices in most markets. And it really tastes delicious!
Although zebu is almost the only existing cattle in Madagascar and thus eaten by everyone, it is a delicacy in Europe and the United States. Compared to our local meat variations, zebu meat is rather lean. Most countries of Europe and the U.S. have some specialized cattle breeders that focus on miniature zebus which taste very similar to their big counterparts. To get real zebu meat, ask your local butcher or find local breeder associations. We have not yet found an online store outside Germany that sells zebu meat – if you know an address, we would be pleased to get a note!